There is an important question for project and programme professionals in 2018: now that you’ve passed your test, how are you learning to drive?
By this I mean that, presently, colleagues who have passed their best practice foundation and practitioner examinations are not always effectively implementing the methodology.
With important changes to established methods – for example the update to PRINCE2® last year – it’s critical for organizations to promote application of best practices and encourage practitioners to move from being certified to practising.
Moreover, this also means that organizations must take greater responsibility for their approaches to change initiatives. Statistics show that fewer than 60% of organizations have a corporate approach to project and programme management.
So, how can organizations and their PPM practitioners apply learning and training to ultimately deliver benefits?
The proactive PPM practitioner
Following training and certification, practitioners need to check whether their organization has an existing corporate approach to PPM. Is there someone responsible for developing, updating and informing staff of such an approach? Surprisingly, this is not always clear and therefore important to ask the question.
If there is a corporate approach, how does the practitioner receive the necessary training in it? Ultimately, if practitioners are certified in a method such as MSP® and PRINCE2 the aim is for them to deploy it. And the 2017 update to PRINCE2 emphasizes tailoring the method in a way that complements the organization.
Creating the connection between global best practice and a corporate approach will ensure that the terminology is mapped and encourages people to use a common language. This will avoid confusion between and across programmes and projects and, additionally, for end users and customers during any corporate change activity.
Once practitioners apply the corporate way, they need to understand how lessons learned from their programmes and projects are fed back into the organization at corporate level. It is essential that organizations develop and promote their internal processes for sharing knowledge and experience.
Creating a corporate approach
The senior management team needs to understand clearly the value of having a corporate approach to PPM. Without a common set of procedures staff will implement their initiatives in different ways, which leads to lack of understanding and very little shared learning.
The senior management team needs to recognize the value PPM methods bring and how organizations use these frameworks across the world. However, they also need to appreciate that it’s their application that will get the best result. That doesn’t mean ‘being slave to’ these frameworks; instead the organizations need to decide what’s appropriate without creating unnecessary bureaucracy.
Having a Portfolio Office is a useful vehicle to create a corporate PPM methodology, to train staff in this and to provide assurance that all projects and programmes are running to these standards. Any lessons learned are then shared through this department, similar to “FBI” – a Federal Bureau of Information/Intelligence!
Tools such as dashboards for highlight reports, can give the senior management team a valuable picture of what’s happening in their change initiatives on a single screen, though this is only achievable if everyone is using the same method to share the information.
Best practice investment = value
Investing in best practice approaches is more critical for organizations than ever. The need for constant improvement means organizations are spending considerable funds on change initiatives and these need to be managed effectively, either as programmes, projects or part of business as usual.
Change needs managing consistently across organizations, avoiding duplication of effort and sharing lessons to avoid making the same mistakes, over and over again. This is possible only by having a common approach. Furthermore, another by-product of this is the ability to self-assess and measure what is being achieved by using the AXELOS maturity level assessment.
Business leaders need to think more about the value that best practice methods bring to their organizations. Equally, there needs to be corporate buy-in to support the newly-trained staff returning to the business who are ready to make a difference and get value from the methods they’ve learned.
Read Rajiv Khanna's previous AXELOS Blog Post, Project vs programme management: choosing best practice.